16 March 2017: A condolence meet was called by JNUTA at SSS-I, Committee Room on 14 March, Tuesday, in the wake of the tragic news surrounding the demise of MPhil scholar from CHS, on the eve of Holi.
As deep anguish wells up with the passing away of our fellow Muthukrishnan, it was felt necessary to have an open house in order to introspect on where we are breaking up, whether our communication lines are still functional or have they gone distraught – between teachers and students and amongst students themselves.
While bureaucratic processes will take their sweet time before it finally makes available financial endowments to students or before the new hostels are constructed or even before the demographics of the campus is changed with the introduction of new admission guidelines on MPhil/PhD and alterations made in the deprivation points; somebody needs to check up on how we are holding up with each other? Are we doing fine? What has snapped our communication lines?
Flying tempers both on the inside and the outside, manifested on different occasions have left so many of us confused about what our futures will be like. Caught up in a whirlwind, as we desperately go through daily parchas or read Facebook posts of fellow student activists and concerned teachers, our mild doubts take a slow-turn and we are laced with pessimistic and skeptical thoughts. We are now submerged in self-doubts. Some of which were aired in the open house. A student’s inability to communicate in English, lack of proper mental-health, the tendency to evaluate self-worth in terms of academic achievements or failures, lack of supervision as well as financial insecurity – all these and many more that weigh on the student’s mind.
There are no filters for our thought-process anymore. The insecurities of mind are never on display, that’s why nobody can advise you to shun negative thoughts when needed. A valuable suggestion to document forms of exclusion and discriminations in classrooms and on the outside was suggested by a PhD scholar. However, committee reports by our very own diligent professors have had no follow up action. So how do we meet with these challenges?
Are we then waiting to establish communication lines from top-to-bottom: set-up a board of advisers who will stare down at you and increase the already widening chasm between teachers and students?
Keeping things welling inside is a slow demise. Looking good on the outside—symbolic of living it up each day is well alright, but if something is not right in the inside, how long before it starts casting shadow in all aspects of your life? Have we related our inner thoughts to another thinking being by keeping it in the shadows or turning to the noisy din of the digital world for comfort? Have all the communication lines become busy?
Resorting to faith perhaps or as someone spontaneously offered at the open house meeting, to gather frequently and come together as members from diverse groups like it so happened spontaneously at the condolence meet. Those present continued to ponder on how to grapple with issues impinging on students emerging from different social backgrounds. Which of the wires are needed to be laid again?
While there are a plethora of issues gnawing at the back of our minds, of some we can speak up easily and others not so much. How to initiate a conversation?
Meanwhile as we try and make sense of the events, lines by the Sufi Punjabi poet, Bulleh Shah, come to the mind:
Parh parh, likh likh ladain dher,
Dher kitabaan, chopheyr,
Kerdey chanan, Wich un heyr,
Pecho: “Rah?” tey khabar n satar
Ilmoun bas karioo yaar
Parh parh shekh mashaikh khawein
Ultey masley gharoon bata dein
Beyilmaan noon lut lut khawein
Jhotey sachey karai na qrar
You’ve amassed much learning around,
The Quran and its commentaries profound,
There is darkness amidst lit ground,
Without the guide you remain unsound
Enough of learning, my friend!
Learning makes you Sheikh or his minion,
And thus you create problems trillion,
You exploit others who know not what,
Misleading them with wild opinion
- The Informer report
Picture taken from Rajini Krish’s Facebook timeline.